West and Russia square off over crisis-hit Ukraine
AFP_KIEV: Western powers and Russia squared off over crisis-hit Ukraine as a top EU envoy prepared to fly to Kiev on Monday to buttress its new leaders´ tilt away from Moscow.
Russia´s fury at the breakneck pace of change in the ex-Soviet nation that saw president Viktor Yanukovych ousted following a week of carnage was on full display with Moscow´s recall of its Kiev ambassador and freeze of its $15-billion Ukrainian bailout loan.
Both the United States and Britain warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to even consider using force to regain sway over a neighbour he views as vital to his efforts to build an economic — and possibly even military — counterweight to the West.
Resurgent opposition leaders in parliament meanwhile prepared on Monday to cobble together a new cabinet after dismantling the last vestiges of a Yanukovych regime that many in the nation of 46 million viewed as both inept and corrupt.
The country´s new prosectors opened criminal probes into top security officials — most of them in hiding since Saturday — they held responsible for ordering police to use snipers against protesters in central Kiev in carnage that killed nearly 100 and left the nation in profound shock.
The heart of Kiev was a site of deep mourning late on Sunday as thousands streamed in clutching candles and flowers to pay their respects to those who fell in defence of Ukraine´s aspirations to be rejoined with the West.
Some people shook their heads in disbelief while inspecting lamp posts studded with bullet holes. Others joined priest in requiems as songs of mourning rose over the ancient city.